After just 3 months of regular yoga practice, depression rates in practitioners dropped by 50%.
While many participants originally begin yoga for the workout element, this statistic alone illustrates that there are many incredible benefits beyond just a great stretch.
While it is true that yoga provides an excellent combination of strength, balance, and flexibility, the true magic happens when we tap into the mental and emotional benefits of this ancient practice.
So what exactly can you expect beyond working up a sweat and twisting into a pretzel? Keep reading to discover just how powerful your practice can really be.
First things first, let’s acknowledge that yoga is in fact an excellent form of exercise for the physical body. In fact, many practitioners experience an increased range of motion, better balance, and – you guessed it – less pain.
While many forms of exercise can irritate back pain and arthritis, yoga is an effective way to address both. By lubricating the joints and allowing for gentle movements, the body is able to naturally soothe those areas and reduce swelling due to poor circulation.
Of course, everyone’s results may differ, but the vast majority do experience fewer painful episodes in both the joints and back with regular practice.
Perhaps one of the most sought after benefits of yoga is its ability to help yogis and yoginis manage stress.
Because we live primarily in a ‘doing’ state, it can be difficult to turn off our minds and just be. This constant thinking and reactionary response to our thoughts can make stressful situations feel bigger and more daunting than they are.
When we allow ourselves the time to slow down and tap into that rest and digest response (rather than fight or flight), our body and mind can let go of some of those stressors. Sometimes this may only be for a short moment, however, yoga teaches us to adopt these techniques off the mat to extend the feeling of stress relief and better manage emotional stress.
Another side effect of our busy lives is our shortened attention span. With constant stimulations from social media, notifications, and instant gratification results, it becomes more and more difficult to focus on one thing for any productive length of time.
The need for multitasking and business has robbed us of our mind’s ability to focus, often leaving us feeling scattered, overwhelmed, or simply exhausted.
By bringing attention to the breath and leaving the world behind for 60 minutes, we slowly but surely stretch our ability to focus. This can lead to more productive time spent at work, home, or with loved ones and ultimately lead to a more stable feeling mind.
As we practise yoga, we tune in to how the body is feeling, where our mind is drifting off to, and what emotions are bubbling up. We do this without judgement and allow ourselves to fully experience what is going on in our body, mind, and emotions.
This observation is opening up our self-awareness, allowing us to notice discomfort, resistance, and more as we practice. This is so powerful because as we train ourselves to become more aware, we start to notice how our body, emotions, or even reactions are manifesting both on and off the mat.
With this heightened ability, we can begin to tap into our intuition more freely and begin to understand our triggers and stress-relievers.
Along with our heightened awareness comes an inner quest for understanding. As we go inside for meditation, savasana, and other elements of yoga, we begin to unwrap who we actually are, rather than who we think we should be.
This may be uncovering darker elements of ourselves as well as unique, beautiful beliefs and abilities. All of these things, light and heavy, allow us to understand why we are the way we are.
This knowledge can then contribute to boosted confidence, easier coping mechanisms, and understanding when feelings and emotions bubble up.
This is not to say that we will never have a ‘bad day’ again but rather equips us with a deeper understanding as to why we may be feeling that way and what we may be able to do to break the cycle.
As we mentioned above, today’s world is driven by doing, achieving, and constantly being ‘busy’. Even when we rest, we are often pumping constant stimulation into the mind via phones, televisions, and even conversation.
While there is nothing wrong with unwinding to a movie or hashing out your day with your spouse, this action doesn’t truly allow your mind to relax.
By attending yoga, you are consciously putting aside the time to invest in your self and allow yourself the indulgent rest that is so necessary for recovery. Not only will you begin to feel more refreshed and centred, but you’ll likely notice an improvement of your ‘active’ energy by repairing your ‘resting’ energy.
Last but certainly not least, attending yoga is a fantastic way to surround yourself with like-minded individuals of unconditional support.
The community you find at yoga is actively learning the same techniques to rest, discover the self, and open the beautiful intuitive centre within. This leads to a group of individuals that is non-judging and understanding.
You may just find you’ve made true friends for life with those you choose to roll your mat out beside.
The Benefits of Yoga
From getting a great workout to heightening your awareness, there’s something to be gained by every yogi and yogini. Now that you know the profound benefits of regular practice, it’s time to tap into your own needs and nourish your mind, body, and soul.
Ready to experience the benefits of yoga for yourself? Book your class today and join the Prana Yoga & Wellness community.